No. 523 January Term, 1977, Appeal from Order of the Commonwealth Court, dated May 28, 1976, at No. 699 C.D. 1975, dismissing appeal and affirming decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board at Docket No. A-69097. No. 570 January Term, 1976, Appeal from Order of the Commonwealth Count dated February 9, 1976, at No. 841 C.D. 1975, affirming the decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, at No. A-69591.
John F. McElvenny, Michael P. McKenna, Philadelphia, for appellants.
Frank J. Eustace, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellees.
David F. Kaliner, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Modell, Pincus, Hahn & Reich, Jerry Zaslow, Philadelphia, for appellees.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Packel, JJ. Packel, former J., and Roberts, J., did not participate in the decision of these cases. Pomeroy, J., filed a concurring and dissenting opinion.
These two Workmen's Compensation appeals involve identical questions of whether the fatal heart attacks suffered by claimants' decedents were "injuries" "related" to their employment so as to be compensable under The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, 77 P.S. § 1 et seq. The facts are undisputed in each case and are as follows.
Claimant Josephine Squillacioti is the widow of Vincent Squillacioti, who died on July 28, 1972, while on the business of his employer, appellant Bernard S. Pincus Company. The decedent was employed as a truck driver whose duties included lifting and carrying meat products from the inside of appellant's truck to the tailboard of the truck where employees of appellant's consignees would remove the cargo.
On July 28, 1972, decedent was engaged in such work on appellant's behalf. Decedent had unloaded approximately one-half of the 12,776 pounds of cargo in the truck that day when he died suddenly. Death was determined to have been caused by a myocardial infarction, coronary occlusion and arteriosclerosis (heart attack).
A referee's hearing was held on June 13, 1973. At the hearing it was established that decedent had a history of heart trouble. Claimant offered the expert testimony of a doctor who stated that decedent's heart attack resulted from the work in which he was engaged on behalf of his employer. Appellant's expert testified that decedent's heart attack was not caused by the rigors of his employment, but resulted from the natural progression of the pre-existing heart disease.
The Referee entered an award on August 23, 1974, in favor of decedent's widow. That award was affirmed by the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board on April 17, 1975. Appellant timely appealed to the Commonwealth Court and that court affirmed.
Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board v. Pincus, 24 Pa. Commw. 655, 357 A.2d 707 (1976). We granted appellant's petition for allowance of appeal, and this appeal followed.
Raymond Lenz, claimant's now-deceased husband, was employed as a cutter and spreader by appellant Ayers Philadelphia, Inc. In the course of his employment, the deceased would spread material on a cutting table approximately twenty feet long. When the material was spread taut, decedent would cut the material with a special knife by pushing and guiding it over the material on the table. While engaged in such activity on September 14, 1972, decedent suffered a fatal heart attack. Decedent was 73 years old at the time and had a history of heart trouble.
A hearing was held before a Referee at which claimant's expert testified that the heart attack which caused death was precipitated by decedent's work. On appeal, the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board set aside the Referee's determination and remanded for more specific findings of fact. In a second Referee's decision dated December 31, 1974, the Referee again found in favor of decedent's claimant. On June 5, 1975, this Referee's award was affirmed by the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board. On appeal, the Commonwealth Court affirmed. Workmen's Compensation Appeal ...